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Things-To-Do-In-Southern-Illinois 17 July, 2022

7 Fun Things To Do In Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois is a unique and charming area that offers plenty of opportunities for fun and excitement. From outdoor activities to historical attractions, there is something for everyone in Southern Illinois. Here are seven fun things to do in this lovely region.


The Southern Illinois area is gifted with many astonishing wonders of nature in countless forms. Campers will adore all sorts of camping styles, from primitive backpacking and RV camping to modern glamping. Below are the most popular camping destinations within the region.

Camp Cedar Point

Camp Manitowa – Cedar Point is the perfect place to spend a summer weekend. With plenty of activities available on-site and beautiful scenery, visitors are sure to have a great time. 

Garden of Gods – Pharoah Campground

The Garden of Gods offers  12 campsites, fire grills, toilets, tables, drinking water, and trails with excellent views of the Shawnee Hills. The Pharoah Campground also features an observation deck that is open all year round. 

Cave in Rock State Park

Cave in Rock State Park offers plenty of Class A and B/S tent sites available, as well as showers, restrooms, and dumping stations; you will have everything you need for a relaxing camping trip.

Ferne Clyffe State Park

Ferne Clyffe has been a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers for many years. With its unique geological features, an abundance of ferns, and diverse plant communities, the park provides visitors with an opportunity to view some of the natural wonders of Illinois. The trails provide hikers with a chance to explore the beauty of the woods and see fascinating rock formations and inspiring vistas. 

Giant City State Park

This park features a lodge and visitor center that welcome guests to explore the area’s natural beauty. Hiking trails wind through Giant City State Park’s forests and rock formations, providing visitors with stunning views of Southern Illinois.


Southern Illinois offers a variety of landscapes and scenic natural beauty to avid hikers and nature trippers alike. Whether you are up for a huge hiking adventure or just need a little trip down the nature aisle, Southern Illinois has everything you need to get on with this escapade. Below are the most popular hiking destinations you should visit in this area,

Bell Smith Springs

The Bell Smith Springs park is a great place to go for a hike and enjoy nature. If you are looking for something different, this is the place to go. With its interesting rock formations and hidden springs, it is sure to be a fun experience.

Giant City Nature Trail

This short trail is perfect for those who are looking for a quick nature tour on one of the most scenic hikes in Illinois. The trail’s primary attractions are the 12,000-year-old sandstone bluffs and astonishing rock formations open and accessible throughout the year.

Panther Den Wilderness Quest

Considered the smallest wilderness in Illinois, the Panther Den Wilderness is bounded by the Crab Orchard Wilderness in its northern part with a portion of Three Fingers of Devil’s Kitchen Lake. The wilderness trail is a 4 to 6-mile loop with a rugged and hilly path which can be strenuous depending on the season. This wilderness also offers waters with multilayers of rock formations and sandstone bluffs perfect for canoeing.

Pomona Natural Bridge Trail

This natural bridge trail is perfect for families because of its short loop and easy route. In this trail, you can encounter bluffs, a waterfall, natural sandstone bridge, and a stream that children will love to explore.


The lakes around southern Illinois are abundant with different types of fish. This includes crappie, white bass, hybrids, largemouths, catfish, panfish, muskies, smallmouths, walleyes, and northern pikes. 

The best areas to fish are Rend Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Kincaid Lake, sister lakes of Little Grassy and Devil’s Kitchen, and Murphysboro.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is also a very popular pastime in Southern Illinois. The region’s rolling hills and scenic trails make it an ideal place to explore on horseback. Riders of all experience levels can find routes that suit their abilities, and many trails offer scenic views of the Shawnee National Forest or the Mississippi River. There are also plenty of stables and equestrian facilities around the area hence it is easy to find a place to rent a horse or take riding lessons. 

Some stables you can visit are:

  • Wildhorse Stables
  • Rowley Rescue Ranch
  • Rose O’Sharon Equine Farm
  • Giant City Stables
  • Autumn Ridge Acres
  • Lake Glendale Stables and Equestrian Center
  • Last Chance Ranch
  • Black Manor LLC

Wildlife encounter

With its abundant natural trails and wilderness, Southern Illinois is home to diverse wildlife selections you can encounter during a hike or camping trip. One of the most popular wildlife encounter destinations in this area is the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

The Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge is an important part of the National Wildlife Refuge system. It was set up to protect and restore the wetlands and native wildlife which rely on the wetlands. The refuge is located between two major rivers, making it a unique and biodiverse area. Some of the wildlife found in the area include waterfowl, shorebirds, and various other wetland animals. Countless important trees can also be seen on the site, including giant cane and bottomland hardwoods.

Visit the past

The southern part of Illinois is rich in history and culture, with many forts, buildings, and monuments still standing. Even after the civil war, many relics and churches over a century old are still alive and can still be visited today. Some of the best places to visit for some historical encounters are below:

  • Safford Memorial Library in Cairo
  • The Old Depot in Tamms
  • John A Logan Museum
  • Toll House Museum 
  • Union County Museum and General Store
  • Fort Massac State Park
  • Kincaid Mounds Archaeological Site
  • Mound African-American Museum 
  • Paul Powell Museum and Research Center
  • Pope County Historical Museum

Wine tasting

Wine lovers will take great pleasure in visiting southern Illinois. With over twenty-five years of experience hosting visitors, the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is one of the most fascinating wine regions in the state. Encompassing the rolling hills of Shawnee National Forest, the wine trail is composed of eleven wineries lining the 40-mile trail featuring nationally and internationally awarded wines. Each winery offers friendly service, unique food experiences, and individually crafted wines using their distinctive winemaking techniques. 

Here are the wineries within the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail:

  • Pomona Winery
  • Starview Vineyards
  • Alto Vineyards
  • Blue Sky Vineyard
  • Winery Peachbarn Cafe
  • Honker Hill Winery
  • Feather Hills Vineyard
  • Kite Hill Vineyards
  • Von Jakob Vineyard
  • Hickory Ridge Vineyard
  • Owl Creek Vineyard

Final thoughts

Southern Illinois is a wonderful place to visit, with plenty of attractions and activities for everyone. Whether you are looking for outdoor fun or want to explore the area’s history, you will find something to enjoy in this charming region of the country.




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